Moving Forward: How About Medicare Buy In At 50?

There are a lot of ideas floating around about what to do with health care. President Obama's remarks aren't helping either. There's an article in th

There are a lot of ideas floating around about what to do with health care. President Obama's remarks aren't helping either.

There's an article in the NY Daily News that says this:

Democratic insiders say they are weighing several options to save health care reform, and one actually may be bold enough to revive a depressed, turned-off Democratic base: use the obscure reconciliation loophole to pass a public option.

“Let’s do a public option, or let’s go back and do a single-payer plan,” a frustrated senior Democrat told the Mouth. “You can have people say, ‘Look, if we’re going to do reconciliation, let’s get more, not get less.’”

“If you’re going to use reconciliation, then use it hard,” the Democrat said, adding that it’s a serious option.

We look at some of the other ideas in the paper today, but that’s the one progressives want.

For instance, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee immediately began sending around a petition last night advising Democrats not to take the wrong lesson from Massachusetts, and to use reconciliation.

“The loss of Ted Kennedy’s seat — due to a lack of enthusiasm among Democrats and Independents — sends a clear message to Congress. The Senate health care bill is not the change we were promised in 2008, and it must be improved. The Senate must use ‘reconciliation’ to pass a better bill with a strong public option.”

PCCC’s Adam Green said it got 10,000 signatures in the first hour.

I was talking to Howie Klein last night and we agreed. What about expanding Medicare and medicaid?

Ezra has the same thoughts:

There is another option.

Democrats could scrap the legislation and start over in the reconciliation process. But not to re-create the whole bill. If you go that route, you admit the whole thing seemed too opaque and complex and compromised. You also admit the limitations of the reconciliation process. So you make it real simple: Medicare buy-in between 50 and 65. Medicaid expands up to 200 percent of poverty with the federal government funding the whole of the expansion. Revenue comes from a surtax on the wealthy.

And that's it. No cost controls. No delivery-system reforms. Nothing that makes the bill long or complex or unfamiliar. Medicare buy-in had more than 51 votes as recently as a month ago. The Medicaid change is simply a larger version of what's already passed both chambers. This bill would be shorter than a Danielle Steel novel. It could take effect before the 2012 election. If health-care reform that preserves the private market is too complex and requires too many dirty deals with the existing industries, then cut both out. But get it done. Democrats have a couple of different options for passing health-care reform this year. But not passing health-care reform should not be seen as one of them.

So the Democrats lost one seat. Big deal. They had 58 seats for a long time anyway. Just don't panic and move forward and be decisive.

The Villagers don't understand that Americans want a progressive health care bill. here's some evidence.

Digby caught a weird exchange between Tweety and Howard Dean.

Somehow, I don't think Matthews or any other villager was convinced by Dean's argument. They just don't think that way. Therefore, electing a Republican will never result in the political establishment and the media understanding that it was because the Democrat wasn't liberal enough. Best not to get too fine with this stuff and just send them a message they can understand.

Yesterday Labor leaders sent Harry Reid for a National Exchange in health-care reform and Reid says they will move HCR forward

I've been insisting that the House should push for a National Exchange in the health-care bill as they reconcile their differences with the Senate.

There's plenty of info on-line that explains what's wrong with the Senate bill, but here's a few key points. Add to the list in the comments.

* National exchange (rather than state exchanges)

* Public option

* Repeal anti-trust exemption

* Wealthy surtax, rather than middle-class insurance tax

* Better affordability provisions in House bill, including level of subsidies and Medicaid to 150% poverty.

* Repeal Stupak language.

Yesterday, Greg at Plum Line reports, the Labor Coalition sent out a letter to Reid and Pelosi demanding a National Exchange in the final bill.

A broad coalition of labor unions and lefty groups has fired off a letter to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi demanding that they follow the House approach on a key aspect of reform, insisting they adopt a national exchange in their final bill, rather than the state-based one preferred by the Senate.

The letter argues that a state-based approach risks undermining reform from the start, and that a national exchange is the only way to ensure real reform that prevents insurers from gaming the system:

In sum, we urge you to adopt the House approach of a national exchange, with the option for states to establish an exchange if they have the capacity to meet or exceed national standards. We also urge you to adopt the House provisions which prohibit the sale of individual converage outside the exchange, the Senate provisions which pool risk of the small group market outside and inside the exchange, and to prohibit insurers from selling only outside the exchange. A national exchange and strong rules to prevent insurer manipulation will lay the foundation to help millions of Americans secure affordable, good-quality coverage starting the first day the exchange opens.

Labor and the White House already reached a deal on the “Cadillac” tax, and this opens another front for negotiations and possible differences. If Brown wins, there will be heavy pressure on the House — as well as unions and other liberal groups — to accept the inevitable and back the Senate bill as is.

Greg thinks this could complicate passage of the final bill, but the House needs to be part of the process and a national exchange is the way to go.

And Jed Lewison argues as we all have that reconciliation is a valuable tool and should be used if necessary.

Today Harry Reid said that they'll keep moving on health care.

Majority Leader Harry Reid says Senate Democrats will press ahead with President Barack Obama's health care overhaul despite the loss of a Massachusetts Senate seat to a Republican.

Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday, Reid offered a list of Senate accomplishments last year, from the Cash for Clunkers program to expanding national service programs. He said in the coming year, the Senate would ensure all Americans affordable health care.

About John Amato

Comments

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.